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Boeing Skyfox

United States (1983)
Picture of Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal
Picture of Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal Picture of Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal
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The Boeing Skyfox was a promising - though failed - initiative designed to update the 1950s-era Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star jet trainers to a more modern standard.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal.  Entry last updated on 3/17/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Boeing Skyfox was a modification program intended to modernized the large fleet of existing Lockheed T-33 "Shooting Star" jet-powered trainers which saw widespread service and sales during the Cold War. The T-33 was developed as a two-seat trainer aircraft from the single-seat P-80/F-80 "Shooting Star" fighter originating during World War 2. The F-80 saw combat action in the Korean War while the T-33 served to bring about whole new generations of jet pilots into the fold. With its World War 2 origins, it was only a matter of time before the system faced its technological limitations (T-33s, though largely retired from service today, were still being operationally used as recently as 2005). The T-33 was produced in over 6,500 examples by Lockheed with a further 656 examples produced by Canadair in Canada (as the CT-133 "Silver Star" with its Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine) and several hundred were manufactured under license by Kawasaki of Japan.

With the T-33 in quantitative use, Skyfox Corporation (founded as Flight Concepts, Incorporated in 1982) was established by former Lockheed engineers. A design initiative came about to drastically modify these older aircraft to a more modern appearance with completely reworked internals while offering much improved performance capabilities and lower operating costs. The program proved promising enough that The Boeing Company acquired Skyfox Corporation in 1986 to begin offering the modification kit to a larger market. However, few potential buyers emerged and stiff competition was being offered by cheaper propeller-driven alternatives. The program eventually fell to naught with only a single prototype being completed in 1982 - this being a converted former Canadian CT-133 "Silver Star" variant. First flight of the Skyfox prototype occurred on August 23rd, 1983. The program was shelved in whole by 1997.

The Skyfox program would have seen a complete redesign of the exterior surfaces of the T-33 to the point that the original aircraft was barely recognizable under its new guise. A new, more pointed nose cone was developed while the single-piece cockpit canopy took on more of a "tear drop" shape. The wings remained straight appendages and low-mounted along the fuselage sides but they were given additional surface area at the wing roots while the wingtip droptanks were optional. While the original T-33 made use of a single turbojet engine buried in the fuselage and aspirated by a pair of side-mounted air intakes, the Skyfox kit installed two external engine nacelles at the rear sides of the fuselage just aft of center. The original intakes were faired over and contoured with the aircraft's general shape while this internal volume was replaced by fuel tanks. This forced the horizontal tailplanes to be raised from the fuselage to the vertical tail fin itself in a "T" style arrangement. The undercarriage remained a traditional tricycle configuration and fully retractable with steering added to the nose wheel as well as power braking for improved ground control. Additional upgrade packages were to be offered to the Skyfox line that would have improved the avionics suite and electronics.


Picture of the Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal
Picture of the Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal


The original T-33s were powered by a single Allison J33-A-35 series turbojet engine while the Skyfox modification introduced a pair of more modern Garret branded TFE731-3A series turbofan engines of both increased performance and improved efficiency with a rated output of 3,700lbs thrust from each unit. In testing, the Skyfox prototype reported an operational range of 2,200 miles on internal fuel with external stores as optional. The airframe reached a service ceiling of 40,000 feet at a 4,900 feet per minute rate of climb while the new engines drastically reduced the aircraft's take-off distance from 4,600 to 2,600 feet and increased its time to altitude. Maximum take-off weight was 20,000lbs.

The Skyfox design effort went beyond that of developing an advanced modern jet trainer as a ground attack role was also envisioned. The airframe could therefore carry an estimated 6,000lbs of external stores across multiple underwing hardpoints and ordnance options would have included machine gun and cannon pods as well as provision for conventional drop bombs and rocket pods for use in the close-support strike role. This effectively broadened the tactical and logistical capabilities of the aircraft for a much broader market appeal.

Despite the impressive effort there was only mild interest generated on the market for a more modern T-33 alternative and this primarily emerged from interest within Bolivia and Ecuador while the United States Air Force and Portugal were also mentioned as candidates. As such, the Skyfox initiative fell to the pages of aviation history without much fanfare.






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City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing Skyfox's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: United States
Year: 1983
Type: Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal
Manufacturer(s): Sky Corporation / Boeing Company - USA
Production: 1
Global Operators:
None.
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing Skyfox model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
44.00 ft


Meters
13.41 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
38.81 ft


Meters
11.83 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
12.34 ft


Meters
3.76 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
8,501 lb


Kilograms
3,856 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
16,235 lb


Kilograms
7,364 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Garrett TFE731-3A turbofan engines developing 3,700 lb thrust each.

Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,256 mi


Kilometers
3,630 km


Nautical Miles
1,960 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
40,000 ft


Meters
12,192 m


Miles
7.58 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,500 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
457 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (10):

Various ordnance options depending on customer requirements. Was to include machine guns, cannons, conventional drop ordnance and rocket pods.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Skyfox - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed; retired in 1997.